Saying no to SRO

Editor of the Reformer:

Regarding your March 6 article, "Voters reject Twin Valley school resource officer’; that’s good news. I am not alarmed at the prospect of a school without a police presence; nor is the anticipation of "Something Happening" giving me the fantods. No, what sends shivers up my spine is to read that highly paid professionals, responsible for the education and safety of our children, can say something like: "We want to build that pulse before something happens." Wait. What?

My horror subsided somewhat when I learned -- not from the Reformer article, which missed it -- that another senior official had quickly amended a quoted mis-statement as to what century we are now living in. But gibberish about "building that pulse" -- presumably a pulse of fear -- is hardly appealing when we so desperately need to build actual school buildings and fill them with computers, fast internet connections and above all, the best teachers we can find.

Our public education system is under assault, not from lone gunmen, but from big business, which sees profits in privatizing. Already the public has accepted as context the radical notion that the sole purpose of public schooling is to train workers for the private sector. Nothing about training citizens with critical thinking skills, much less creative, intelligent, well-rounded people who can invent a smart energy grid based on cheap, sustainable, abundant resources, or figure out how to feed the billion or so of us who are starving, or work out a peace-based economy to replace of our bankrupt war-based one. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) leaves out Art, it should be STEAM.

What do students learn from beefed-up "security," purchased at the expense of central heating or a computer lab? And as to declining enrollment, how is that surprising, when teachers are shamefully underpaid, bullied with testing and job insecurity and blamed for not "increasing the product?" A school is not a shopping mall. Education is not a business enterprise, it is a critical civil necessity.

Kudos to the voters who were not cowed into thinking an armed guard, by whatever name, provides any real protection against another shooting tragedy. Such ideas sell a great deal of extremely expensive hardware, while failing utterly to address the real and quite dangerous atmosphere of fear. At least, for now, students in our district needn’t worry about being shot with a "resource" by some rent-a-cop. Maybe now we can spend our taxes on actual educational resources.

The real cost of heightened "security" is pervasive, gnawing fear. I grew up in the "Duck and Cover" days of nuclear terror, and when the sirens wailed, and we all dove under the desks, we only learned helplessness, mistrust and blind hatred. The "All Clear" signal only allowed us to crawl out from under the furniture. We remained fearful and hyper-vigilant.

Is that the world we want to create for our grandchildren? It is not a rhetorical question.

Peter Barus,

Whitingham, March 10

It’s the parking, not the tax

Editor of the Reformer:

Regarding the editorial of March 11 on the 1 percent local option tax, I don’t really think another 1 percent is going to drive shoppers away from downtown shopping in Brattleboro. Maybe I’m talking about the elephant in the room, but I think a big deterrent for folks to shop downtown is the parking challenge. You have two issues: you have to pay for parking, and you also need to have a pocket full of loose change at either meters or Pay & Display Lots. If the Pay & Display machines had the option of taking dollar bills, it would eliminate at least one of the problems.

Tax-free New Hampshire, is also free-parking New Hampshire.

Eileen Deutsch,

Westminster West, March 12